Tjoritja or the West MacDonnell Ranges is an ancient landscape west of Alice Springs featuring rugged gorges and towering red rock walls. At its heart is Ormiston Gorge, the most popular of the national park’s many spectacular natural wonders. This is a great place to see Ormiston Pound, discover an array of wildlife and local plants, and take a dip in the cool and refreshing waterholes.
Just 135km from Alice Springs, Ormiston Gorge also offers an array of walks amongst the ghost gums and rocky slopes surrounding the near-permanent waterhole. Use Ormiston Gorge as your starting point to further discover the MacDonnell Ranges. Or if you’ve only got time for one breathtaking stop, choose an Ormiston Gorge tour, and prepare to be awed.
Fly into the heart of the nation for stays in Yulara (Uluru) and Alice Springs. Enjoy sunrise and sunset over the Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), trek with camels through Uluru, take a view from above with breathtaking views and enjoy a once in a lifetime dining experience at Sounds of Silence under the Southern night skies. We then make our way into Kings Canyon where we enjoy cultural experiences, stop at Kings Creek Station before heading into Alice Springs to visit the Royal Flying Doctors Service. Finish off the tour with a bush style true outback style BBQ with a visit to Standley Chasm, driving via West Macdonnell Ranges and heading into Ormiston Gorge before flying home.
From the parking area and kiosk it is a short, fully accessible 500m walk to the waterhole. Taking a dip is ideal in the warmer months. The swimming hole is thought to be 14m deep at the southern end though which makes the water invigorating, to say the least.
Consider beginning your Ormiston Gorge sightseeing tour by taking a walk before a refreshing swim. The Ghost Gum lookout is a moderate 1.2km walk of approximately 45 mins resulting in wonderful views of the gorge. For those with more time, the three-hour Pound Walk completes a full circuit of Ormiston Pound to finish at the waterhole. Ormiston Gorge is also a stop on the epic 223km Larapinta Trail but that’s not for the novice walker.
Whilst walking keep an eye open for interesting native flora and fauna. Look for long-tailed dunnart, central rock rat, dingo, red kangaroo, and the plethora of birdlife including western bowerbird, rufous-crowned emu-wren, and spinifex pigeon.
If you’d prefer to visit Ormiston Gorge on a guided tour, Fun Over Fifty offers several tours visiting this beautiful region including our Uluru, Kings Canyon, Alice Springs Spritzer, and The Ghan & Red Centre Sensation packages.
Head west on sealed roads from Alice Springs along Namatjira Drive to the Ormiston Gorge Visitor Centre and Kiosk. The drive time is around an hour and a half in good conditions.
Ormiston Gorge in Tjoritja (West MacDonnell) National Park is open year-round, though access roads can be temporarily closed after heavy rain so check before making the journey. The Visitor Centre and Kiosk are also open daily, but again, check before you go in case of unforeseen circumstances.
For those who would like to stay overnight, Ormiston Gorge camping facilities are available just outside of the gorge. It offers basic camping facilities, including toilets, picnic areas, and fire pits. Camping is subject to fees, and it's advisable to make a reservation if possible, especially during peak seasons.
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